The World Bank Board of Executive Directors has yesterday approved dishing out USD25 million to boost the productivity of Tanzanias agriculture sector through timely delivery of seeds and fertilisers to 300,000 farmers, and additional financing of USD30 million to enable farmers access the latest knowledge of agricultural, farming technology and irrigation infrastructure. A statement availed to this paper from the World Bank said the funds will be provided by the International Development Association, which helps the worlds poorest countries by providing loans (referred to as credits) and grants to run projects and programmes which would boost their economic growth, reduce poverty, and improve poor peoples lives. The funding comes at a time of rising grain and fertiliser prices; this is why investments in rural farms are needed to help smallholder farmers get inputs, extension services and access to local infrastructures. The statement said the financing will support seed and fertiliser subsidies under Tanzanias flagship National Agricultural Input Voucher Scheme (NAIVS) that has already distributed over 15 million vouchers to over 2.5 million farm households, enabling the purchase and application of more than 500,000 tonnes of fertiliser and 50,000 tonnes of improved seed. These inputs have increased production to 1.5 million tonnes of additional maize and rice reducing the countrys dependence on costly grain imports and food aid, revealed the report. The statement further said that the additional resources will support local investments under the Agricultural Sector Development Programme (ASDP) to increase smallholder crop and livestock productivity and farm incomes by strengthening small scale irrigation development, farmers capacity building, service delivery and market linkages. It said the programme has noted substantial gains, including rehabilitation and establishment of 120,822 hectares in irrigation contributing to a 48 percent gain in total irrigated area, which has led to a doubling of irrigated rice productivity. The number of farmers using improved seeds and farm mechanisation has also increased. Increasing the productivity of Tanzanias agriculture sector is essential for the country to meet its economic growth targets, boosting food security and protecting the environment, said Philippe Dongier, World Bank Country Director for Tanzania. This support is designed to help Tanzania achieve the goal of five percent agricultural growth rate and give farmers access to latest knowledge, technology and infrastructure, said Dongier. Agriculture is the primary economic activity for 80 percent of Tanzanias population. The Agricultural Sector Development Programme (ASDP) is Tanzanias primary tool for implementing its growth strategy for the agriculture sector as outlined in Mkukuta II, the national development plan. Achieving income growth and food security are closely inter-linked and both depend on the sustained adaptation of modern agricultural technologies, said Jamal Saghir, World Bank Director for Sustainable Development in Africa. Our support for Tanzanias agriculture economy is designed to offset the risks posed by spiking food and fertiliser prices and climate change by equipping farmers with the necessary tools to increase food production to reduce dependence on imports and mitigate impact of climatic shocks, he said. Recent impact surveys indicate that the improved seeds and fertilisers made available by the subsidy programme have increased average maize yields by 1.2 tonnes per hectare, and increased average rice yields by 0.6 tonnes per hectare, said Tijan Sallah, World Bank Sector Manager Agriculture, Rural Development and Irrigation, adding, We look forward to effective implementation of these projects for the benefit of all Tanzanians. The Guardian Today.